Clenched Fists, Cold Hearts and Unpaid Debts
It seems as though my creative juices run dry when I have a lot to ponder on. I have been thinking a lot lately, and so, I haven’t been able to put up all the blog posts I would want to. After chewing on this extensively (or so I hope), I would like to share a little I’ve noticed about… well about life – but I’ll start with me (this promises to be long, so brace yourself).
I used to be very compassionate. I think over time it has reduced, but I still consider myself to be a very empathetic person. Some people will call this being emotional (shrug). More often than not, when I say; “I understand how you feel,” (I dare say) I may be closer to understanding than any other person would. So as much as possible, I yearn to live peaceably with everyone, knowing that if I offended anyone, I would know how I have made them feel. Maybe all this will make sense at the end of this blog post.
I have made some choices that have offended others in the past and while empathizing with them I have had some time to think through the topics of offence, forgiveness and healing. I’ll share my thoughts as orderly as I can, under these categories: The dream I had, the movie I watched (and book I read) and **conversations:
I once had a dream that a man (let’s name him Zac) had beaten up a girl (we’ll call her Jill). Here it goes:
The dream began with Jill viciously accusing Zac of beating her up till she was battered and bruised. Zac, for the life of Christ living in Him, could not understand what Jill was talking about, because he didn’t have the faintest memory of beating her up.
Jill wasn’t about to let him off the hook. She was presenting all sorts of evidence that showed that he had beaten her mercilessly. But Zac was devastated and frustrated and stood his ground – he didn’t do it.
I was there throughout the confrontation and realized there were some discrepancies in the accounts from both sides. Somehow, (this part of the dream is a blur) I found out that Zac had a brain tumor at the time so wasn’t acting in his consciousness when he was beating up Jill.
So, Zac beat her up, but he didn’t know he did. Similarly, Jill was beaten but didn’t know that Zac was unaware of what he was doing then. At this point in the dream, Zac was made aware of what he had done and was broken about it. Jill had made her point and said she didn’t hold it against him and walked away.
The dream made perfect sense to me because it replayed events of my life in a different light. It showed me how very little taking offense does to the other person, as compared to what it does to you. Zac felt bad about what he discovered he’d done to Jill. Though that did not change what had been done to Jill, I doubt it gave Jill any more comfort or eased any of her burdens when Zac realized he had offended/ hurt her.
Will Jill be right to forgive Zac? Whether or not he was consciously hurting her? If she did forgive him, is she justified to have a ‘but’? Here’s what I mean by a ‘but’:
I recently carpooled with a work colleague and asked his thoughts on forgiveness. He said, ‘Forgiveness is divine’. I asked him what that means and he said two things, “God asks us to forgive, and God forgives us our sins.” That’s what it means to him, so I didn’t dwell on whether or not that’s what it really means. Instead, I was interested in sharing views on what forgiveness entails. My colleague went on to explain that if someone offends me, I should be able to let it go and forgive them but I should be sure to keep the person at bay, in order to prevent another offense from that person. I begged to differ.
When I read and watched The Shack, I learnt something I hadn’t previously paid much attention to. The Holy Spirit asked the main character what basis he used to determine when someone was wrong. His response was reasonable; something along the lines of ‘When someone’s words or actions cause me pain or hurt me or make me feel some negative emotions’. The Holy Spirit then asked, “if everyone else in the world was thinking the way you were thinking, whose plea for punishment or restitution do I answer or listen to?”
This was very meaningful to me because it showed me that what I see as “wrong” from my limited viewpoint may not be wrong after all. In essence, God, being thoroughly good, is the only true judge of what (or who) is good or bad. So, I may have been hurt by someone, God may not necessarily see that offense as bad, (though He doesn’t want to see you hurting). The big idea is to work through that seemingly bad situation to reach an expected end.
The Bible teaches us that
‘…And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them…” Romans. 8:28
NOTE: EVERYTHING not some things – all of the things. In this case, whatever hurtful action done or hurtful word uttered against you, is working for your good. It is working for you.
Here’s a fictional scenario to explain what I am saying: Kofi and Ama are strangers on planet earth. Their paths cross during an internship. They build a close friendship. Though they have a friendship, they are not aware that there is a divine reason they are in each other’s lives. Unfortunately, Kofi hurts Ama’s feelings to the point where she is really broken. Ama reacts to this pain and breaks all ties with Kofi, though she does not hold what he did against him after he asked for forgiveness.
At this point, Ama and Kofi have missed out on that divine reason they were in each other’s lives. Additionally, this would mean that Ama has been unable to fully forgive Kofi. When Christ forgives us, he restores us to the place we were before we sinned. So, if Christ asks us to forgive like He does, He expects us to hold nothing back and in forgiving our offenders. Probably, Ama was going to be refined into God’s desired image of her through this experience.
In this case, God would have caused Kofi’s offense to work for the good of Ama. Though the hurt may not have been an original part of God’s plan, but a ripple effect of Kofi or Ama’s bad choices. Whatever the case may be, it would have worked together for Kofi and Ama’s good – well, if they loved God.
I took some time to study a little on forgiveness and came across this quote in a Bible plan devotion:
‘…human beings have a tendency to treat others how we expect to be treated. We are kind to those who are kind to us and unloving to those who were unloving. Hence, if we believe someone’s actions were unloving to us, we unconsciously (or consciously) return the gesture / attitude…’ –Dr. John Tonsend & Dr. Henry Cloud.
This is not the God-kind of love. Human tendencies (now) are not always how God intended them to be. It is seemingly impossible for humans to forgive in entirety; but we are called to take up that divine task of releasing clenched fists, warming frozen hearts, and dismissing unpaid debts. Those debts you have accumulated in your heart, may not be debts at all – from where God sits.
I have a little more to say (sub-topic **conversations) but I will put it up in a separate post.😊 Do share your insights on this post or the topic of ‘offense, forgiveness, pain and healing’ in the comment section below.
I hope this blessed you🤗.